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Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog
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Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog
At the writing of this lesson, we all, (I hope) have just watched the Semi Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So let me ask you a couple of questions? Has your study of the New Testament in the Come Follow Me program influenced how you listened to the messages? Has it influenced what you learned? Did you hear messages that support the doctrine you've been taught? Did you prepare yourself to receive revelation?
Much like those taught by Jesus in his day, in General Conference we are counseled and instructed on points of doctrine, how to receive a testimony of the truth, and how to gain personal revelation, by those who have been given the priesthood keys of authority in our day.
To explain this point, many years ago President Spencer W. Kimball and several other Church leaders visited the small cathedral in Copenhagen, Denmark, that houses Bertel Thorvaldsen’s famous statues of Jesus Christ and the Twelve Apostles. Speaking of this experience, Elder Rex D. Pinegar said: “As we looked at those beautiful works of art we noted that Peter was sculptured with large keys in his hands. … As we were ready to leave the cathedral, the Danish caretaker … was standing near the door awaiting our departure. President Kimball shook his hand [and] thanked him for his kindness in letting us visit the cathedral. Then the president began an explanation of the church established by Jesus Christ and of its importance to us. … Gathering President Tanner, Elder Monson, and Elder Packer closer to him, the president continued, ‘We are living apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are Twelve Apostles and three others who are the presidency of the Church. We hold the real keys, as Peter did, and we use them every day. They are in use constantly’” (Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 104; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 69).
As we continue in our study of the New Testament we come to Matthew 16–17; Mark 8–9; Luke 9
Here Jesus taught His disciples how to receive a testimony of the truth, and along with Moses, and Elijah conferred the priesthood keys upon Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration so that they, like our Twelve today, could lead His church upon the earth after He was no longer with them.
Christ taught and counseled the apostles as well as his disciples on how to know if He was the Son of God and how to live our lives so that the Spirit would always strive with us. It is our duty as true disciples of Jesus Christ to prepare for and be attentive to the instruction and council given to us by those whom He has called to lead. In doing so we can improve ourselves and our relationship to Christ and be prepared for when he returns again. General Conference in connection with the Come Follow Me program are excellent even Holy tools He has given us so that we can believe, we can know the priesthood has been restored, we can know that He is aware of us and we can indeed achieve our goal of eternal life with Father once again.
1. A testimony of Jesus Christ comes by revelation Matthew 16:13–19
In Matthew 16, Peter bore his testimony that Jesus is the Christ, and the Savior explained that Peter had received that knowledge by revelation.
13 ¶ When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Caesarea Philippi is a region (“coasts” means region) composed of small towns Matthew 16:13; Mark 8:27. It is located near the base of Mount Hermon, is one of the sources of the Jordan River, and is overlooked by the most prominent geological feature of the area, a huge rock formation at the base of Mount Hermon. It was here that an important conversation occurred between the Savior and His disciples, as recorded in Matthew 16:13–19, in which the Savior taught about revelation, both individual revelation and the revelation needed to govern the Church.
President Russell M. Nelson wrote about the appropriateness of this setting for the conversation that took place between Jesus and His disciples: The modern-day scene in Caesarea Philippi is unique. There is a mountain at the base of which is a mighty rock from which water seems to be flowing. These cascades comprise one of the three major headwaters of the River Jordan, literally the liquid lifeline of this country. As Jesus was preparing to conclude His mortal ministry [His Crucifixion took place six months later], here He trained future leaders of His Church. Could it be that the Savior brought His disciples to this spot to teach the lesson that this majestic mountain symbolized the rock of Christ from whom revelation would flow?—revelation to bring light and life to them, just as that flowing water of the River Jordan nourishes Israel” (“Why This Holy Land?” Ensign, Dec. 1989, 15–16).
Just as Moses struck the rock with his staff and water flowed from it, saving the people of Israel from death in the wilderness, the Savior is the rock from which the saving doctrines and ordinances flow, empowering us to lay hold on eternal life (Numbers 20:11; 1 Nephi 17:29; 2 Nephi 25:20).
Have you ever had to explain to someone how you know the gospel is true?
Jesus left Decapolis and went to the area of Caesarea Philippi, where he asked his disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). What was Peter’s response? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
What was the source of Peter’s testimony? Matthew 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Jesus Christ commended Peter, recognizing that his testimony came not from the testimony of others or from physical evidences, but from revelation from Heavenly Father. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught that faith in Jesus Christ should be the core of our testimony and that this testimony must come to each person through individual revelation: “We cannot depend on the testimonies of other people. We need to know for ourselves. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, ‘Every Latter-day Saint has the responsibility to know for himself or herself with a certainty beyond doubt that Jesus is the resurrected, living Son of the living God’ (‘Fear Not to Do Good,’ Ensign, May 1983, 80).
“The source of this sure knowledge and firm conviction is divine revelation. …“We receive this testimony when the Holy Spirit speaks to the spirit within us. We will receive a calm and unwavering certainty that will be the source of our testimony and conviction irrespective of our culture, race, language, or socioeconomic background. These promptings of the Spirit, rather than human logic alone, will be the true foundation upon which our testimony will be built. “The core of this testimony will always be the faith in and the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His divine mission” (“The Power of a Personal Testimony,” Ensign Nov. 2006, 38).
How did you come to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and your Savior?
In Matthew 16:13–17, what did the Savior teach about how we receive a testimony? Our testimonies are given to us by a witness from the Spirit, no man can give it to us, we cannot buy it, it can only be given after a heartfelt, righteous request.
Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the rock Jesus referred to is revelation (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 274).
In what way is revelation the foundation of the Lord’s Church? As the Savior taught Peter about revelation, He used a wordplay on Peter’s name, declaring to Simon, “Thou art Peter [Petros], and upon this rock [petra] I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The Greek word petros means an isolated small rock or stone. The Greek word petra can also mean “a stone,” but in addition it can refer to stony soil, bedrock, or a large mass of rock. From these words we learn that it was not upon Peter as a man that the Church would be built, but upon the bedrock of revelation.
President Howard W. Hunter taught: “‘And upon this rock I will build my church.’ Upon what rock? Peter? Upon a man? No, not upon a man, upon the rock of revelation, the thing which they were talking about. He had just said, ‘… flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.’ This revelation that Jesus is the Christ is the foundation upon which he would build his Church” (Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 112; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 195).
There are many people who are praying for personal revelation and maybe you are one of them. However, many of those seeking answers do not know how to recognize it when it comes.
What scripture teachings or accounts can you think of that would help you or someone you know recognize personal revelation? (For example, see 1 Kings 19:11–12; Galatians 5:22–23; Enos 1:1–8; D&C 8:2–3.)
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.
What are some things we can do to prepare ourselves to receive revelation through the Holy Ghost?
For a more complete understanding of receiving personal revelation click here: “The Spirit of Revelation,” Elder David Bednar
2. Priesthood keys are essential for our salvation Matthew 16:13–19; 17:1–9
In the first century A.D., keys were typically made of iron and were bulkier, more expensive, and less common than modern house keys. To hold the keys of a house was a position of great trust. Thus, keys were a fitting symbol of special authority, responsibility, and purpose. Ancient scriptures make repeated use of the symbol of keys, which represents the power to lock and unlock, open and shut, and permit or prevent entrance. In these verses the Savior promised to give Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
What are these keys? Why are they necessary? (D&C 128:9–10; 132:46.)
9 It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?
10 And again, for the precedent, Matthew 16:18, 19: And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
46 And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.
Who holds them today? The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds all the keys of the kingdom. The President and his counselors—the First Presidency—have the right to preside over the Church D&C 81:2; 107:22.
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “The Priesthood in general is the authority given to man to act for God. Every man ordained to any degree of the Priesthood, has this authority delegated to him. “But it is necessary that every act performed under this authority shall be done at the proper time and place, in the proper way, and after the proper order. The power of directing these labors constitutes the keys of the Priesthood. In their fulness, the keys are held by only one person at a time, the prophet and president of the Church. He may delegate any portion of this power to another, in which case that person holds the keys of that particular labor” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 136).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that priesthood keys “are the right of presidency, the directing, controlling, governing power” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 411).
Peter exercised these priesthood keys when he presided over the selection of a new Apostle Acts 1:15–26, oversaw the spreading of the gospel to Samaria Acts 8:14–25, received a revelation regarding Gentile converts Acts 10:9–48, and presided over the Jerusalem conference Acts 15:6–29.
Peter and the other Apostles received priesthood keys that made their actions and decisions binding both on earth and in eternity. President Russell M. Nelson explained that the keys promised to Peter in Matthew 16:19 included the sealing authority exercised in our temples today, authority that makes it possible for families to be bound together for eternity: “We should understand the sealing authority of the priesthood. Jesus referred to this authority long ago when He taught His Apostles, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ [Matthew 16:19]. That same authority has been restored in these latter days. Just as priesthood is eternal—without beginning or end—so is the effect of priesthood ordinances that bind families together forever” (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 33).
Why is a conviction that the prophet holds these keys an essential part of our testimonies?
3. The Mount of Transfiguration Matthew 17:1–13
Matthew 17:1–13 records the Transfiguration; the glorious experience when the Savior was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John. This event occurred six days after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ on an unnamed mountain that is sometimes referred to as the Mount of Transfiguration.
On numerous occasions, the Savior separated Peter, James, and John from the other Apostles. Only these three Apostles witnessed the raising of Jairus’s daughter from the dead Mark 5:22–24, 35–43. Only they were present on the Mount of Transfiguration, where they received priesthood keys. Only they were taken to a certain location within Gethsemane, where they beheld the Savior’s agony as He took upon Himself the sins of the world. These experiences and perhaps many more helped to prepare Peter, James, and John for the time following the death of Jesus Christ, when they served as the First Presidency of the Church (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:152).
Peter, James, and John witnessed the Transfiguration of the Savior and received important knowledge and keys. This was one of the most significant events in the New Testament. It helped prepare Jesus for his Atonement and fortified the three Apostles for the additional responsibilities they would soon have as leaders of the Church.
What does transfiguration mean? A temporary change in a person’s appearance and nature; a transformation to a more glorified state. It is brought about by the power of God. D&C 67:11; Moses 1:11.
11 For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.
11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
The Guide to the Scriptures defines transfiguration as “the condition of persons who are temporarily changed in appearance and nature—that is, lifted to a higher spiritual level—so that they can endure the presence and glory of heavenly beings” (“Transfiguration”; scriptures.lds.org).
According to Matthew 17:1–5, what happened when Jesus, Peter, James, and John were on the Mount of Transfiguration?
1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
“(1) Jesus singled out Peter, James, and John from the rest of the Twelve; took them upon an unnamed mountain; there he was transfigured before them, and they beheld his glory. … [Peter] said they ‘were eyewitnesses of his majesty.’ (2 Pet. 1:16.)
“(2) Peter, James, and John, were themselves ‘transfigured before him’ [Teachings: Joseph Smith, 105], … thus enabling them to entertain angels, see visions and comprehend the things of God. …
“(3) Moses and Elijah—two ancient prophets who were translated and taken to heaven without tasting death, so they could return with tangible bodies on this very occasion, an occasion preceding the day of resurrection—appeared on the mountain; and they and Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter, James, and John [Teachings: Joseph Smith, 105].
“(4) John the Baptist, previously beheaded by Herod, apparently was also present. …
“(5) Peter, James, and John saw in vision the transfiguration of the earth, that is, they saw it renewed and returned to its paradisiacal state—an event that is to take place at the Second Coming when the millennial era is ushered in. (D. & C. 63:20–21. …)
“(6) It appears that Peter, James, and John received their own endowments while on the mountain [Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:165]. … It also appears that it was while on the mount that they received the more sure word of prophecy, it then being revealed to them that they were sealed up unto eternal life. (2 Pet. 1:16–19; D. & C. 131:5.)
“(7) Apparently Jesus himself was strengthened and encouraged by Moses and Elijah so as to be prepared for the infinite sufferings and agony ahead of him in connection with working out the infinite and eternal atonement [James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1916), 373]. …
“(8) Certainly the three chosen apostles were taught in plainness ‘of his death, and also his resurrection’ [Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 9:31 (in Luke 9:31, footnote a.)]. …
“(9) It should also have been apparent to them that the old dispensations of the past had faded away, that the law (of which Moses was the symbol) and the prophets (of whom Elijah was the typifying representative) were subject to Him whom they were now commanded to hear.
“(10) Apparently God the Father, overshadowed and hidden by a cloud, was present on the mountain” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:399–401).
What can we learn from the Transfiguration to help us when we need spiritual strength?
1. We should follow the Savior’s example by praying fervently when we need spiritual strength (Luke 9:28). Speaking of the Transfiguration, Elder Haight said: “Perhaps Jesus felt not only a sense of the heavenly calm which that solitary opportunity for communion with His Father would bring, but even more, a sense that He would be supported in the coming hour by ministrations not of this earth. … As He prayed to His Father, He was elevated far above the doubt and wickedness of the world which had rejected Him. We can have the assurance that Jesus will strengthen us as he did Peter, James, and John.... “He took His three apostles with Him in the belief that they, after having seen His glory … might be fortified, that their faith might be strengthened to prepare them for the insults and humiliating events which were to follow.”
2. We can be strengthened by testimony of the Savior (Matthew 17:5) and by the doctrines of the gospel. Elder Haight said, “The three chosen apostles were taught of [the Savior’s] coming death and also His resurrection, teachings that would strengthen each of them in the eventful days ahead.”
3. Elder David B. Haight taught that Jesus’ Transfiguration “was meant for our spiritual enlightenment as well as for those who were personal witnesses” (Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 8; or Ensign, May 1977, 7).
From the events of Peter James and John do you understand how priesthood keys bless your lives?
Following is the offical church doctrine concering priesthood keys:
Priesthood keys are the authority God has given to priesthood leaders to direct, control, and govern the use of His priesthood on earth. The exercise of priesthood authority is governed by those who hold its keys (see Doctrine and Covenants 65:2; 81:2; 124:123). Those who hold priesthood keys have the right to preside over and direct the Church within a jurisdiction.
Jesus Christ holds all the keys of the priesthood pertaining to His Church. He has conferred upon each of His Apostles all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on earth. The senior living Apostle, the President of the Church, is the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys (see Doctrine and Covenants 43:1–4; 81:2; 107:64–67, 91–92; 132:7).
Seventies act by assignment and by the delegation of authority from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Area Presidents are assigned to administer areas under the authorization of the First Presidency and the Twelve. The Presidency of the Seventy are set apart and are given the keys to preside over the Quorums of Seventy.
The President of the Church delegates priesthood keys to other priesthood leaders so they can preside in their areas of responsibility. Priesthood keys are bestowed on presidents of temples, missions, stakes, and districts; bishops; branch presidents; and quorum presidents. This presiding authority is valid only for the designated responsibilities and within the geographic jurisdiction of each leader’s calling. When priesthood leaders are released from their callings, they no longer hold the associated keys.
Counselors to priesthood leaders do not receive keys. They are set apart and function in their callings by assignment and delegated authority.
All ward and stake auxiliary organizations operate under the direction of the bishop or stake president, who holds the keys to preside. Auxiliary presidents and their counselors do not receive keys. They receive delegated authority to function in their callings. (Handbook 2.1.1,)
How are we blessed by the service of these priesthood leaders?
4. When seeking greater faith, we must first hold on to the faith we already have Mark 9:14–30
Here we read about the desperation of a father to save his son using even just a touch of belief to beseech the Savior for divine intervention.
14 ¶ And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.
15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.
16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them?
17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit;
18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead.
27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose.
28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?
29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
30 ¶ And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.
What was this father seeking for his son? The son was possessed by an evil spirit, which caused speech loss, deafness and other maladies. Whenever the evil spirit seized hold of the son, the son would convulse, foam at the mouth, grind his teeth, and become rigid.
Now imagine being this father. How might your faith in the Savior and His power been affected when the disciples could not heal their son?
What do you think this father was feeling as he conversed with the Savior?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “Observation number one regarding this account is that when facing the challenge of faith, the father asserts his strength first and only then acknowledges his limitation. His initial declaration is affirmative and without hesitation: ‘Lord, I believe.’ I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. … The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.
“The second observation is a variation of the first. When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your ‘unbelief.’ … I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. … Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle. …
“Last observation: When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help. If we want it as humbly and honestly as this father did, we can get it. The scriptures phrase such earnest desire as being of ‘real intent,’ pursued ‘with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God’ [2 Nephi 31:13]. I testify that in response to that kind of importuning, God will send help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign May 2013, 93–94).
What principle did the Savior teach this father? If we believe in Jesus Christ, all things will be possible to us. “all things” pertains to all righteous blessings that are in accordance with God’s will, purposes, and timing.
What can we learn from this father about what we can do in times of unbelief? If we hold on to what we believe …
What can we learn about dealing with unbelief from the other part of this father’s statement in verse 24? and seek the Lord’s assistance, …
What messages in this scripture account can help us increase our faith? If we hold on to what we believe and seek the Lord’s assistance, He will help us strengthen our faith.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave the following counsel regarding strengthening our belief: “When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your ‘unbelief.’ … I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle. …When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help. If we want it as humbly and honestly as this father did, we can get it. The scriptures phrase such earnest desire as being of ‘real intent,’ pursued ‘with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God’ [2 Nephi 31:13]. I testify that in response to that kind of importuning, God will send help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign May 2013, 94)
This father initially took his son to some of Jesus’s disciples to be healed. Imagine you are one of the disciples; What might you have been thinking or feeling after failing to cast the evil spirit out of the boy?
What did the Savior teach His disciples? They had a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ is needed for priesthood blessings to be effective. Prayer and fasting influence a person’s faith, they needed prayer and fasting to increase their faith in Jesus Christ.
What can we learn for us from this account? “This account [of Jesus casting out an evil spirit from a man’s son] teaches that prayer and fasting can give added strength to those giving and receiving priesthood blessings. The account can also be applied to your personal efforts to live the gospel. If you have a weakness or sin that you have struggled to overcome, you may need to fast and pray in order to receive the help or forgiveness you desire. Like the demon that Christ cast out, your difficulty may be the kind that will go out only through prayer and fasting” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 67)
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught the following: “We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful” (“The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 73).
For more instruction about combining fasting with prayer, including its effect of bringing increased spiritual power into our lives, see Elder Carl B. Pratt, “The Blessings of a Proper Fast,” Ensign Nov. 2004, 47–49.
As Latter-day Saints we have information to help us understand what took place on the Mount of Transfiguration, the importance of revelation in the Church today and the necessity of priesthood keys. We, like Peter, can know through the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Likewise we can be assured that all things are possible for those who believe no matter how small that belief may be. We only need to reach out to him and ask, even with just a mustard seed of faith. Even so, it is imperative in our time that we increase our faith, our testimonies of the Living Christ and His doctrine. When the Savior cast a devil out of a deaf and dumb child, he used the occasion to teach His disciples about the power of fasting and prayer. When we are giving or receiving a preisthood blessing, when we are in the trenches and it feels like we can't hold on, when we have doubts that come into our mind and we feel to say help thou my unbelief, sincere prayer coupled with fasting can bring us help and forgivness. We only need to trust in Him and follow the example of His Apostles. We can be strengthened and we can endure well and through the teachings we have been given from the past as well as from our present day Prophet and Apostles we can know that the Lord is aware of each of us and stays by our side, we can be victorious in living righteously, we can gain eternal life, and we can have the dear greeting of well done good and faithful servant upon His return.
New Testament Student Manual
Church Handbook 2
True to the Faith
Guide to Scriptures
Gospel Doctrine 5th ed
Teachings of presidents
Teachings of Joseph Smith
Doctrines of Salvation
Jesus the Christ